Category Archives: Missiles & Guided Weapons

Beyond-Line-Of-Sight

MBDA is joining with 13 partners and subcontractors from 5 countries to develop a new capability based on the MMP missile system (Missile Moyenne Portée, Medium-Range Missile) that will be unique for mounted and dismounted forces.

MBDA’s MMP missile selected to fulfill the European Beyond-Line-Of-Sight battlefield engagement capability

LynkEUs, an MBDA coordinated project, has been selected by the European Commission as part of the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), following consultation with Member States.

LynkEUs is the first technological and industrial contribution to the objectives of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capability project. The BLOS capability project had been approved in November 2018 by the EU Defence Ministers.

The LynkEUs project is managed in close partnership with the French, Belgian and Cypriot armed forces. The project seeks to define an initial operational concept for a European BLOS capability. It will also provide an opportunity to identify and test emerging solutions of potential value for future upgrades to the capability, and will be validated by a test campaign.

The concepts and tests completed for the PESCO BLOS project will contribute to the development of a family of man-on-the loop BLOS missile systems with back image, based on the MMP medium range missile, and under full control of Europe’s defence industry.

Eric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «LynkEUs is the first cooperative project in the missile systems field leveraging on the new EU defence instruments, and the first EU defence R&D project to be coordinated by MBDA. It demonstrates our eagerness to cooperate to an ever-greater extent in Europe and to expand our circle of industrial and technological partnerships, particularly with innovative SMEs and European research centres. It also demonstrates our commitment to serve European strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty ambitions».

MBDA and its 10 partners – from Belgium: The Royal Military Academy, John Cockerill Defense, FN Herstal, Thales Belgium, and Xenics; from Cyprus: Aditess, Cyprus Institute, and SignalGenerix; from France: Novadem and Safran; along with the 3 subcontractors: MILREM (from Estonia), DELAIR (from France), and Carmenta (from Sweden) – are now entering the negotiation phase of the grant agreement with the Commission.

This first success at the European level paves the way for further collaborative projects, that will consolidate a European BLOS capability by developing associated functions such as training systems and cooperative engagement. These new projects could be eligible for the future European Defence Fund as early as 2021.

Air Defence Systems

On June 19 the NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) medium-range air defence systems procured from Norway were delivered to the Air Defence Battalion of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The modern air defence equipment will provide the Lithuanian Air Force with a several tens of kilometres effective range capability.

NASAMS medium-range air defence systems delivered to the Lithuanian Air Force

«Arrival of the systems has made the Lithuanian air defence stronger and contributes to further strengthening of deterrence. If we link together all elements of the defence system, we get good results that will make potential aggressor think twice, and consequently give us more security and discretion», Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys says.

NASAMS is the most widely used mid-range air defence system in NATO member states, and even for guarding the airspace over the White House. Lithuania has acquired the most recent, their generation, NASAMS 3, its current users are still only the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of Norway, the manufacturer.

The procured NASAMS systems comprise many components – fire control centres, missile launchers, communications equipment, etc. Lithuania also upgraded the RBS70 short-range air defence systems it has been using, both systems will be integrated to form an overall Lithuanian airspace defence shield.

Training of qualified personnel for work with the new equipment began in Norway in the end of last year according to methodology and programs developed by the Norwegian Armed Forces and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Further training will be carried in Lithuania by Norwegian professionals on the ground, in the Air Defence Battalion. The personnel are planned to be fully trained by 2021 and integration of the systems into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) will begin.

Anti-Radiation Missile

The U.S. Navy completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Patuxent River test range.

The U.S. Navy conducts the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River test range in Maryland (U.S. Navy photo)

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. Test points were completed across a range of flight conditions to demonstrate carriage compatibility of AARGM-ER with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

«This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase», said Captain Mitch Commerford, who oversees the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242). «Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER».

Testing will continue over the next few years in preparation for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023, he said.

The extended range variant, which leverages the AARGM program that’s currently in full rate production, has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead. It will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and will also be compatible for integration on the F-35A/B/C Lightning II.

Laser-Guided Rockets

BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time. The proof-of-concept testing demonstrated the flexibility of APKWS rockets to deliver standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces, providing warfighters with a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support.

BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its APKWS laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time

BAE Systems tested the APKWS rockets at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a premier manufacturer of rocket launchers. The team used Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70-mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – to fire several successful shots. The ground-launch capability builds on hundreds of successful shots in combat from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

«Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice», said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. «Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customer and partners to deliver that capability».

Ground-launched APKWS rockets could provide mounted and dismounted units with a unique way to engage soft and lightly armored targets from a variety of platforms. The low size, weight, and power requirements of ground-launched APKWS rockets make them ideal for tactical lightweight vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles, and stationary platforms, providing warfighters with precision munitions that improve their safety and mission effectiveness.

«We designed FLETCHER specifically as a ground launcher for precision-guided 70-mm rockets», said Jim Hager, president and CEO at Arnold Defense. «FLETCHER-launched APKWS rockets enable our military customers to engage targets from more than just airborne platforms. We envision FLETCHER being used on everything from trucks and tracked vehicles to marine platforms in the future».

APKWS laser-guided rockets are the only U.S. government program of record for precision-guided 70-milimeter rockets. All four U.S. armed forces use APKWS rockets, and it is available to U.S. allies via Foreign Military Sales. FMS activities support more than a dozen partner nations and interest from other nations.

BAE Systems’ long range precision fires solutions use advanced technologies to consistently and effectively hit a variety of targets in complex environments from long distances, resulting in successful land, air and sea missions.

Multirole Missile

Leonardo and Thales are proud to announce the first successful firings of the Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat helicopter. The firings were conducted as part of the UK MoD’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) programme and demonstrated the integration of the Martlet onto the AW159 platform. This represents a major milestone for the programme and will enable this high-end capability to enter service with the Royal Navy later this year.

The Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat will pack a lot of firepower, as it is able to carry up to 20 Thales Martlet lightweight missiles primarily intended to defend against attacking small boats, as well as two Sea Venom anti-ship missiles for offensive missions (Royal Navy photo)

The firing trials were conducted from 27th April to 21st May 2020 and despite the current COVID-19 situation, Leonardo and Thales were able to support the UK Ministry of Defence by completing this critical activity. All of the teams involved had to adopt strict distancing procedures, in some cases having to find new ways of working, in order to make sure that the trials could go ahead. It is a testimony to the professionalism of those involved that these trials were successfully completed under such challenging and novel circumstances.

«This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities», said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK).

«The successful live firings of the Thales LMM Martlet from the AW159 Wildcat is a key milestone in the programme, delivering a significant step-change in capability for the platform. LMM Martlet will ensure that the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and her task group during her maiden operational deployment next year. With each platform capable of carrying up to 20 Martlet, the Wildcats deployed with the task group will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests», said Philip McBride, General Manager, Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales UK.

In July 2014, Leonardo signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to integrate, test and install the MBDA Sea Venom (heavy) and Thales LMM (light) missile systems onto Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters, a programme called Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).

The FASGW (light) part of the programme has now seen the LMM, with its associated launcher and airborne laser guidance unit, successfully integrated into the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat sensor, displays and avionics systems. The LMM provides a step-change in capability for the Royal Navy which, in the maritime environment, faces a major challenge in engaging smaller, fast-moving, asymmetric threats, due to their high mobility, their small thermal and radar signatures and the severe background clutter encountered. The LMM is capable of surmounting these issues where traditional electro-optic and radar guidance systems do not provide the certainty of hit required.

On-board the AW159 Wildcat platform, the LMM Martlet could also allow operators to engage air targets such as UAVs and other maritime helicopters.

The launchers are mounted to the AW159 via the new Leonardo Weapon Wing, developed at the Company’s design and manufacturing facility in Yeovil and first trialed last year. Each weapon wing will be able to carry either ten Martlet or two Sea Venom missiles and generates additional lift for the helicopter in forward flight, reducing demands on the main rotor.

The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite (DAS).

Over 50,000 flight hours have been logged by the helicopter. The AW159 has also been chosen by the British Army, the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy as a new maritime operator of the helicopter.

Cruise Missile Systems

The U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing a combined $3.1 billion in contracts for Harpoon and Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) weapon systems in support of Foreign Military Sales (FMS). About $2.6 billion of that was contracted today while the remainder had been previously awarded.

Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) is a combat-proven, all-weather, over-the-horizon, precision-strike missile (Boeing illustration)

«We are pleased to continue our long legacy of partnering with the U.S. Navy to build weapons that defend America and its international partners», said Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president, Boeing Weapons. «These awards will not only extend production of the Harpoon program through 2026, they will also restart the production line for SLAM ER and ensure deliveries through 2028».

Boeing last delivered the SLAM ER weapon system in 2008. In October 2019, Boeing began construction on a new 35,000 sq. feet/ 3,252 sq. meters manufacturing facility to support increased production for the Harpoon and SLAM ER programs. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

Harpoon Block II features an autonomous, all-weather, over-the-horizon strike capability and is an ideal weapon for both anti-ship and land-strike missions. These versatile weapons can be launched from aircraft, ships, submarines or by mobile coastal defense vehicles (Boeing illustration)

Long-Range Weapon

The U.S. Air Force announced plans to continue with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies, on the development of the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), a strategic weapon that will replace the service’s legacy Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

U.S. Air Force selects Raytheon Missiles & Defense to develop Long-Range Standoff Weapon

«LRSO will be a critical contributor to the air-launched portion of America’s nuclear triad», said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles and Defense. «Providing a modernized capability to the U.S. Air Force will strengthen our nation’s deterrence posture».

In 2017, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon and Lockheed Martin contracts for the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase of the program. The Raytheon Missiles & Defense LRSO team recently passed its preliminary design review and is on track to complete the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase of the Defense Acquisition process by January 2022.

Contract negotiations for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, with a strong focus on schedule realism, affordability, and cost-capability trades, will start in Fiscal Year 2021. The contract award is anticipated in FY22.

Ramjet Technologies

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence announced their intent to continue a bilateral effort to explore advanced solid fuel ramjet technologies. The Tactical High-speed Offensive Ramjet for Extended Range, or THOR-ER, is an Allied Prototyping Initiative (API) effort under the Directorate for Advanced Capabilities within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Norway and the U.S. will extend their THOR-ER project, which aims to jointly develop and integrate solid fuel ramjet technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable and can attain high-speeds and extended ranges (Nammo photo)

The THOR-ER effort aims to cooperatively develop and integrate advancements in solid fuel ramjet technologies into full-size prototypes that are affordable, attain high-speeds, and achieve extended range, culminating in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions. The effort will also consider potential U.S. and Norwegian co-production opportunities.

«This continuation is an important next step in advancing high-speed propulsion technologies with our Norwegian partners», said Doctor Michael Griffin, Under Secretary for Research and Engineering. «It will drive fielding of the critical technologies needed to ensure U.S. and Allied military superiority in hypersonic systems».

THOR-ER continues collaborative research efforts involving the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division China Lake; the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment; and Norwegian industry partner Nammo.

«I am very pleased with the prospects of this initiative. Not only will it provide a game changing capability for our Armed Forces, it also brings bilateral cooperation to a whole new level», said Mr. Morten Tiller, Norwegian National Armaments Director. «The THOR-ER development incorporates the results of long term R&D on missile and rocket technology in Norway. In my opinion this merger of US and Norwegian R&D efforts and engineering skills strengthens alliance innovation, in addition it represents an opportunity for closer defence industrial base cooperation».

«Nammo’s new propulsion solutions are closing the range gap between the US and its future potential adversaries. Our involvement in THOR-ER allows us to bring together the best of US and Norwegian propulsion technology through the framework of a bilateral US-Norwegian partnership, and this fits perfectly with our long term ambitions», said Morten Brandtzæg, President and CEO of Nammo Group.

The Allied Prototyping Initiative, launched in 2019 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Advanced Capabilities directorate, leverages new and existing frameworks for international cooperation in research and development, so that the U.S. and its closest Allies can co-develop prototypes to bolster their military superiority. The goal of the API is to rapidly co-develop high-impact, game-changing, large-scale operational prototypes and to explore opportunities to energize the industrial bases within the U.S. and its closest Allies.

Qualification firing

MBDA has successfully carried out the first qualification firing trial of the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile at the DGA Essais de missiles (DGA EM) test site at Ile Du Levant on 20 February 2020, another significant milestone for the Anglo-French co-operation programme.

MBDA’s Sea Venom/ANL missile succeeds in first qualification firing

The missile was launched from a Dauphin helicopter close to the minimum release height, reaching its cruise phase whilst sea skimming at very low height. During its terminal phase, the aircrew used images from the infrared seeker – transmitted through the datalink – to perform a successful manual aim point refinement. The missile has then followed this designated point until hitting the target with a very high degree of accuracy.

This latest firing builds on two previous ones that have all tested the missile to the very edge of its capability. The previous firings demonstrated Sea Venom/ANL’s Lock On After Launch (LOAL) and Lock On Before Launch (LOBL) capabilities. They also validated its low-altitude sea-skimming flight and its autonomous guidance capability using images from its uncooled Imaging InfraRed (IIR) seeker.

Sea Venom/ANL is a purpose-built anti-ship missile for the French and UK navies’ shipborne helicopters, and is suitable for a wide range of platforms. It will safely engage hostile vessels amongst civilian assets, even in congested littoral environments and will defeat a broad spectrum of targets including small fast-moving craft through to larger ships – at sea or in port – as well as coastal land targets.

Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «Sea Venom/ANL is the first Anglo-French co-operation programme to take full advantage of our centres of excellence, created following an Inter-Governmental Agreement ratified by both nations’ Parliaments in 2016. MBDA is putting full effort into the successful implementation of the Sea Venom/ANL programme, recognising it should exemplify the benefits of the close co-operation UK and France are sharing in defence – enhancing both nation’s sovereign capabilities in armaments while reducing costs».

The UK Royal Navy will use Sea Venom/ANL on its AW159 Wildcat, replacing Sea Skua, while France’s Marine Nationale will operate the missile from its future Guépard Light Joint Helicopter (HIL – Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger).

Missile on target

MBDA’s Marte Extended Range (ER) anti-ship missile has completed its second firing carried out at the Poligono Interforze del Salto di Quirra (PISQ) test range in Sardinia. This firing confirmed the overall design and performance of the missile marking a critical milestone in its development path.

New Marte Extended Range (ER) missile on target in second test firing

Compared to the first firing, which took place at the end of 2018, several additional features and functionalities were tested. These included an integrated navigation system, proximity fly-over fuze, with weapon controller and actuation system in advanced configuration. The missile also featured the terminal guidance with a new seeker, engineered and developed by the MBDA Seeker Division.

The floating target was hit with «almost zero» miss distance after a flight of about 100 km/62 miles. The missile pushed its envelope to the limit with several major manoeuvres including very low sea skimming at very high speed.

Hitting the target confirmed the perfect behavior of the missile and the telemetry system recorded a huge amount of data. Flight data showed very good alignment with simulation outcomes.

The Marte ER programme is progressing at full speed in order to meet customers’ requirements and the full integration of Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon platform is proceeding at pace in order to implement an anti-ship capability onto the fighter.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Weight 315 kg/694.5 lbs.
Length 3.60 m/11.81 feet
Maximum body diameter 316 mm/12.44 inch
Range Well beyond 100 km/62 miles
Speed High subsonic